Rohit a big hit

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron emerged as batting heroes for India in a last ditch battle that left West Indian skipper Darren Sammy drained.-PTI

The target for India was only 212. But the way they huffed and puffed, before scraping through, the figure might well have been 2012! S. Sabanayakan reports.

For the 45,000 excited crowd at the Barabati Stadium, an Indian victory looked certain after the West Indies, put in by skipper Virender Sehwag, set a victory target of 212. But nobody had bargained for the twists and turns in the Indian innings. An unexpected batting collapse left India tottering at 59 for five, followed by a terrific rescue effort by Man of the Match Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja that brought India back into the reckoning. Finally the game was nailed for India by two inexperienced tailenders!

Amid mounting tension, Varun Aaron scored a boundary and a single to take India to within three runs of the target. Finally, Umesh Yadav's on-drive off a good length delivery from Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, for a boundary sealed the one-wicket win for India.

When India began the chase, it looked like a cakewalk. But West Indian fast bowler Kemar Roach produced a mesmerising spell to take out Parthiv Patel, Gambhir and Kohli in quick succession and Andre Russell dismissed Sehwag with an inswinger and Raina with a slower one to consume the Indian top-order.

Sharma and Jadeja showed appreciable calmness to douse the West Indian fire. Endowed with oodles of talent, Sharma showed his mastery over strokes under duress. He played some bold shots sending the ball soaring over the straight field for a six and following it up with a stylish cover drive off Russell. He then played a well-timed pull to the boundary. Jadeja too was in control and picked up runs mostly through glides and glances, with an occasional boundary thrown in. It was a calculated counter-attack by the duo.

Returning to the team after a long lay-off owing to a finger injury, Sharma needed to play a big innings for himself as well as for the team, especially in the absence of a finisher like Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He took up the mantle and stayed almost till the end. When Jadeja fell for 38, and R. Ashwin left soon thereafter, Sharma forged a fruitful partnership with R. Vinay Kumar. But his dismissal, at a personal score of 72, to what looked like an innocuous ball from Anthony Martin that eluded his bat and hit the stumps via the pad, brought a rude twist to the story. If Sharma and the tailenders could take full credit for taking India to victory, India's largely inexperienced pace attack was hugely impressive. With the regular members who fashioned India's World Cup triumph absent, Yadav and Aaron bowled with fire and purpose. Vinay's line and length and his away movement too caused a lot of problems to the West Indian batting line-up. The two spinners, Ashwin and Jadeja, also worked wonders.

No wonder the visiting team found the going tough. Only Darren Bravo's 60 and Danza Hyatt's patient innings helped the team build its total. Much was expected of Kieron Pollard, but his failure to force the spinners only compounded the West Indians' problems. But for Russell's late charge, the West Indies total would not have gone beyond 200.

After many years, the Indian team went into an international with five specialist bowlers and six batsmen. The utter failure of the top five batsmen did hurt the Indian stand-in captain. ``When you lose five quick wickets, it is difficult to come back,'' Sehwag said later.

He singled out Rohit Sharma and Jadeja for praise as their partnership provided the comeback surge. “The way Rohit, Jadeja and Vinay batted it was great to see the team recover from a bad start. Now we believe that we can win from any situation,'' Sehwag said. The defeat did not disgrace the West Indies.

The young team showed the stomach for a fight and backed some inspired bowling with keen fielding.


West Indies: L. Simmons b Yadav 19, A. Barath c Patel b Vinay 17, M. Samuels b Aaron 10, D. Bravo b Raina 60, D. Hyatt (run out) 31, K. Pollard c Kohli b Ashwin 13, D. Ramdin c & b Yadav 14, D. Sammy b Jadeja 0, A. Russell b Aaron 22, K. Roach (not out) 12, A. Martin (not out) 3; Extras (lb-4, w-6): 10; Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs): 211.

Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-46, 3-52, 4-127, 5-154, 6-159, 7-169, 8-183, 9-200.

India bowling: Vinay 6-0-27-1, Yadav 8-1-33-2, Aaron 9-0-47-2, Ashwin 10-1-30-1, Jadeja 10-0-42-1, Raina 5-0-20-1, Sharma 2-0-8-0.

India: P. Patel c Martin b Roach 12, V. Sehwag b Russell 20, G. Gambhir c Ramdin b Roach 4, V. Kohli b Roach 3, R. Sharma b Martin 72, S. Raina c Bravo b Russell 5, R. Jadeja c Simmons b Pollard 38, R. Ashwin (run out) 6, R. Vinay Kumar c Roach b Sammy 18, V. Aaron (not out) 6, U. Yadav (not out) 6; Extras (lb-3, nb-4, w-16): 23; Total (for nine wkts. in 48.5 overs): 213.

Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2- 41, 3-47, 4-51, 5-59, 6-142, 7-159, 8-201, 9-201.

West Indies bowling: Roach 10-0-46-3, Martin 6-1-35-1, Russell 9-1-29-2, Sammy 8.5-1-40-1, Samuels 10-0-37-0, Pollard 5-0-23-1.